Bill Cosby's lawyers asked a federal judge Wednesday to let them sit in on depositions in Andrea Constand's defamation lawsuit against the former Montgomery County prosecutor who declined a decade ago to charge the entertainer after an alleged assault.
Judge Eduardo C. Robreno questioned if Cosby's lawyers were simply trying to use the civil case to find information to help in his criminal defense.
"You weren't invited to this party - you kind of crashed the party," he said.
Cosby's lawyers didn't dispute that.
"The theme of the party is our client," lawyer Sam Silver said.
The hearing in Philadelphia, attended by nine lawyers representing five clients, offered a glimpse into the complexity of Cosby's overlapping legal battles in multiple states and courts.
It also came the day after a Montgomery County judge set a tentative June 5, 2017, date for a trial on charges that Cosby sexually assaulted Constand, and after prosecutors there said they want to call 13 additional accusers to testify against him.
The civil dispute between Constand and former Montgomery County District Attorney Bruce L. Castor Jr. is based on Castor's decision not to prosecute Cosby when she first reported the alleged assault in 2005.
Constand sued Castor last fall, alleging he made false statements about her and her claims for his political gain. Castor has called the litigation an attempt to influence last year's race for district attorney, which he lost.
Among those being called for a deposition is Judge Risa Vetri Ferman, who was Castor's first assistant in 2005 and who, years later as his successor, reopened the investigation that led to Cosby's arrest.
Ferman's lawyer argued Wednesday that she is protected from disclosing information about criminal investigations.
But Bebe Kivitz, a lawyer for Constand, said she wants to ask Ferman only about a few facts related to the 2005 investigation and the "nonprosecution agreement" that Castor claims he made with Cosby's lawyers in 2005.
Cosby's lawyers said they want to "actively participate" in Ferman's deposition - a request that drew opposition from current prosecutors.
"Criminal belligerents ... have no place hijacking a civil litigation," Assistant District Attorney Daniel Bardo told the judge.
Cosby's lawyers have also asked to attend Constand's deposition - not to ask questions, but to listen and object to anything that may violate the confidentiality agreement that became part of her 2006 settlement with the entertainer.
Kivitz said that was unnecessary because that lawsuit involves the same facts as the pending criminal case, most of which have been released in the last year. She said Cosby's lawyers' participation could lead to "bullying or intimidation" of Constand.
Robreno did not indicate when he would rule on the matter.